MORE than 1,700 workers are facing a more secure future after a deal was signed to sell three plants in Yorkshire’s steel heartland.
Tata Steel UK has secured an agreement to sell its Speciality Steels business to Liberty House Group for £100m.
The business employs 1,700 workers making products for the aerospace, automotive and oil and gas industries.
The assets include sites in Brinsworth, Rotherham, and Stocksbridge in South Yorkshire and sites in Bolton and Wednesbury, West Midlands.
John Healey, the Labour MP for Wentworth & Dearne, said the deal should be a big step towards securing long-term steel-making in South Yorkshire.
Mr Healey added: “2016 was an awful year of job cuts and uncertainty in Tata but the sale agreement means steel-workers and their families can start to see light at the end of the tunnel during 2017.”
Bimlendra Jha, chief executive of Tata Steel UK, said: “This is good news for Speciality Steels and for Tata Steel’s core business in the UK. For Speciality Steels, which is largely independent of our European strip products supply chain, this is an important step forward in securing a future for the business under new ownership.
“Today’s news also marks another important step forward in realising a more sustainable future for our Port Talbot-based supply chain in the UK.
“Like our former Scunthorpe-based Long Products business which we sold last year, we will be handing over a business which has been transformed following difficult decisions to restructure and re-focus on higher-value markets.
“Employees, trade unions and the management team have worked incredibly hard at Speciality Steels to improve its performance and I’m delighted to say that the business is now on an improvement track which will enable it to thrive in the future.”
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community union, said the announcement was a “welcome step forward” in securing the future of the Speciality Steels business.
He said: “However, this is not the end of the process and there is still work to do before the sale is completed. Community has been campaigning for months for longer-term certainty for these highly skilled jobs and we will now engage more directly with Liberty to understand their plan for the business.
“The steelworkers concerned produce some of the world’s most advanced steel products and we will need to be convinced this sale is in their best interests.
“We also need to see the Government do more to help support the future of Speciality Steels and create an environment in which the whole UK steel industry can survive and grow.”
Liberty said the deal secures the future of around 1,700 jobs directly, and thousands more in the supply chain. It will make Liberty one of the largest steel and engineering employers in the UK with more than 4,000 workers at plants located across Britain.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the Liberty House Group, said: “I am proud that we are acquiring a world-class business with a very skilled workforce and broad range of high-value products.
“It is one of only a handful of such operations in the world and I am confident it will flourish within our group.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Acquiring Tata’s Speciality Steels business in South Yorkshire and West Midlands, which manufactures high-quality steel for some of the UK’s world-leading industries such as aerospace and automotive, is a great opportunity for Liberty House. I look forward to hearing more about their expansion plans which secures skilled jobs at the business into the future.”
Gill Furniss, the shadow minister for steel, said: “This deal is a hugely important and very welcome development for workers and the UK steel industry.”